THE HUM­MING­BIRD BAK­ERY

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Food­ies around the world have called the clo­sure of Amer­i­can cup­cake fran­chise Crumbs Bake Shop the be­gin­ning of the end for the era of the cup­cake. While the stylish food that sup­pos­edly got its big break on an episode of Sex and the City back in 2000 may be on the outs with con­sumers in the US, the rest of the world is only just get­ting started and Bri­tish bake shop The Hum­ming­brid Bak­ery is at the fore­front of the move­ment.

Per­haps the most In­sta­gramed ob­ject on the planet, cup­cakes are not only delish but they’re a thing of di­vine per­fec­tion. A decade ago in 2004, Tarek Malouf rec­og­nizes these pint-sized cakes as a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity. Dif­fer­ing from fairy cakes, cup­cakes have a flat top and are only to be iced with but­ter cream and cream cheese ic­ing as op­posed to fon­dant. With the en­cour­age­ment from his sis­ter in New York City who was fa­mil­iar with the famed Mag­no­lia Bak­ery—where said SATC episode took place— he opened Hum­ming­bird Bak­ery’s first lo­ca­tion in the Not­ting Hill neigh­bour­hood of Lon­don, Eng­land.

Hum­ming­bird quickly grew to six lo­ca­tions across Lon­don and soon the Mid­dle East also wanted in on the ac­tion; with a large Arab con­sumer base in the sum­mers, Malouf joined forces with Daud Ara­bian for a fran­chise agree­ment in Dubai.

Their first lo­ca­tion opened in the Dubai Mall in Septem­ber 2012. Malouf now has plans to launch another 20 lo­ca­tions clear across the Mid­dle East in­clud­ing Qatar and Jor­dan over the next decade.

But it’s just a cup­cake you say. Any­one can make a cup­cake. What’s so spe­cial about Malouf ’s recipe for suc­cess? It’s all in his sup­ply chain. Each of his bake shops sell prod­uct that is freshly baked and dec­o­rated on a daily ba­sis in-house.each dessert chef is able to ice a tray of 24 cup­cakes in a jaw-drop­ping four min­utes. This speed guar­an­tees visi­tors a cup­cake of their choice on ar­rival. For those not un­der the cup­cake spell, there are any num­ber of pasties avail­able in­clud­ing pies, rain­bow lay­ered party cake, cook­ies and per­haps the best cof­fee I’ve had in years.

What I per­son­ally ap­pre­ci­ate most about Hum­ming­bird is the in­no­va­tive in­gre­di­ents and dec­o­ra­tion they use on each of their cre­ations. For ex­am­ple, in cel­e­bra­tion of Amer­i­can In­de­pen­dence Day back in July, they cre­ated a flavour in hon­our of the cup­cake’s coun­try of ori­gin. The cake it­self was a per­fectly moist South­ern tea cake made with cin­na­mon, banana, pecans and a se­cret in­gre­di­ent: pineap­ple. The fin­ish­ing touch was red, white and blue ic­ing dec­o­ra­tions. It just worked! I haven’t stopped think­ing about that cup­cake since.

The bak­ery’s most pop­u­lar cup­cake on their ros­ter is with­out a doubt Red Vel­vet. Their ver­sion of the clas­sic flavour is so tan­ta­liz­ing it has been known to cause even Gwyneth Pal­trow to break her gluten- free, macro- bi­otic, no­carb rou­tine. It’s a lit­tle known fact that the Red Vel­vet recipe claims roots in Toronto.

With a best­selling cook­book al­ready in stores and Hum­ming­bird’s rapid ex­pan­sion in the Mid­dle East fully un­der­way, the lit­tle bake shop shows no signs of slow­ing down. In 2010 they set their first in-house record of selling a mil­lion cup­cakes in less than a year. In 2011, they beat their own record by two whole months. As for the fu­ture of Hum­ming­bird, only one thing is cer­tain; it in­volves me wait­ing on the side­lines for an in­evitable be­spoke line of Mid­dle Eastern flavours.

“Malouf now has plans to launch another twenty lo­ca­tions clear across the Mid­dle East in­clud­ing Qatar and Jor­dan over the next decade”

Their most pop­u­lar cup­cake on their ros­ter is with­out a doubt Red Vel­vet. Their ver­sion of the clas­sic flavour is so tan­ta­liz­ing it has been known to cause even Gwyneth Pal­trow to break her gluten-free, macro-bi­otic, no-carb rou­tine. It’s a lit­tle known fact that the Red Vel­vet recipe claims roots in Toronto.

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the cake was a pop­u­lar dessert at the bak­eries at Ea­ton’s depart­ment store. It was pro­moted as an ex­clu­sive Ea­ton’s recipe with the bak­ers sworn to si­lence as many be­lieved it was a recipe writ­ten by Lady Ea­ton her­self. The truth be­hind the strange colour­ing could be sim­ply chalked up to ra­tioning dur­ing World War II. Be­cause food colour­ing was scarce, bak­ers used beet juice to colour their desserts. Food colour­ing also had the prop­erty of re­tain­ing mois­ture in baked goods so the recipe stuck.

The Hum­ming­bird Bak­ery Cook­book by Tarek Malouf re­tails on Ama­zon.ca start­ing at $23.79. Visit any of the bak­ery’s seven lo­ca­tions in Lon­don or Dubai the next time you’re trav­el­ling: https:// hum­ming­bird­bak­ery.com

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